Character Analysis: Raylene Boatwright

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Identity is not merely assigned or created. In fact identity is fluid, it evolves as humans adapt and change over time. A person’s identity is shaped like a sculpture, each event, no matter how seemingly insignificant or grandiose is a chip of marble chiseled off. The sculpture is never finished, as one’s identity is never entirely formed. That being said a person can possess characteristics or ideals that are unique to them and seem to be foundations of their identity, however, even those are not set in stone and one small event can make them crumble. The ability to adapt to one’s circumstances is highly important to survival; of equal importance is how this affects one’s identity. Because adapting to situations is necessary for survival…show more content…
She does not allow the changing times and events to shake her. She has solidified who she is in the same way she solidified her home, she doesn’t move. Her fixed location in a house on the side of the river, distanced from the rest of the family, but not excluding, fits her role in the family and more importantly her role in the novel. Though Raylene’s identity does not drastically change over the course of the novel’s events, it is made evident that this fixed identity is a response to a failed attempt to solidify her identity at an earlier time in life. It is not evident till near the end of the novel, but it is strongly eluded that Raylene is a lesbian and although she does not maintain lovers or even friends at the time of the novel, she had at one point taken a lover. (300) Furthermore, it is important to note that during that time Raylene had abandoned her family and joined a circus, cross-dressing as a man. (179) This is the closest Raylene comes to her innate identity, especially sexually. However, she is still not fully expressing a true identity, as evident by the cross-dressing, which is hiding her gender. There is no evidence that Raylene wants to be or associates as a man, so this cross-dressing business can be taken as a survival technique, considering at the time young women expressing…show more content…
Her change in ideals and perception change so dramatically over the course of the novel, that by the end of it she appears as entirely different entity. In order to put into perspective her full progression it is important to look at the woman she begins as and the one the novel closes with. At the beginning Anney is angry, but determined; at 15 and pregnant she is determined to not be like the other Boatwrights, to make something of herself, as well as determined to be a good mother. (3) Her initial identities were prearranged; she could not control that she was a Boatwright and that Boatwrights had a certain type of reputation. She also had no control over the fact she gave birth to a registered bastard, which also comes with a certain type of reputation. However, it is a chosen identity that she accepts the role of mother and tries to provide a good life for her daughter, including finding her a good daddy. The Anney at the end of the story is no longer truly a Boatwright or the mother of a bastard as she chooses to abandon both to continue being the wife of Glen Waddell. These choices are survival choices, not predetermined ones. To be perfectly clear this is not a survival choice because she could not thrive without Glen’s support, she would be fully supported by her family should she choose to leave him, however this is a choice she makes for her emotional survival. Anney is a broken young woman; she has been

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